Hedberg v. Detthow

Summary

Ulf Hedberg and his ex-wife separated when their son was four years old. For the next five and a half years, the child lived with Hedberg and his partner, Blaise Delahoussaye, in a Virginia home the couple purchased together. But the boy’s mother petitioned for custody after she moved from Virginia to Florida. A Virginia court gave Hedberg custody of the boy on the condition that Delahoussaye move out of the family’s home. To support two households, the couple sold their house and moved to Maryland, where they lived in separate apartments, leaving the boy without a second supportive adult at home. Finally, Hedberg asked a Maryland court to lift the restriction in light of the havoc it was causing in the boy’s life. After the trial court turned Hedberg down, our legal team urged the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to remove the custody restriction, and in 2005, the court ruled that Hedberg could have his day in court to challenge the restriction. In March 2006, the trial court ruled that it was not in the child’s best interest for his father and Delahoussaye to be separated, and the family was reunited.

Lambda Legal's Impact

Lambda Legal is solidifying LGBT parenting protections by challenging discriminatory custody laws that, in this case, had caused a child to lose another loving caregiver in the home and had cost his family their house.

History

  • January 2005 Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights file brief in Maryland Court of Special Appeals seeking to remove custody restriction on behalf of gay father who is barred from living with his partner while raising his 12-year-old son.
  • June 2005 Victory! Maryland Court of Special Appeals rules that Mr. Hedberg should have his day in court and sends the case back to lower court for a full hearing. The lower court had previously denied Hedberg’s request to remove the restriction.
  • March 2006 Trial court rules that keeping Hedberg’s partner out of their home was not in the child’s best interest.

Case Information

Status: Closed
Outcome: Victory

Plaintiffs

Ulf Hedberg

Attorneys

Lambda Legal
Susan Sommer

Co-counsel/Cooperating Attorneys
Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights; Susan Silber of Silber & Perlman in Takoma Park, MD